Are self acceptance and weight loss mutually exclusive? This panel discussion led by Karen, Mara, and Shauna will introduce the concept of self-acceptance and facilitate a meaningful discussion about the relationship between self-acceptance, body image, health at every size, and weight loss.
Mara: This is a topic that is near and dear to our hearts. This is a really powerful community. Our hope is to bring up this topic and some of the fears associated with self-acceptance to cultivate a positive community feeling.
Karen: I believe self-acceptance is a constant practice and evolution.
Shauna: My journey to self-acceptance began when I wrote the end of my book. My book was finished but my struggle with emotional eating and that roller coaster was not over. I realized I had a lot left to learn.
Mara: I think we want to start around the things people think about self-acceptance. What makes us nervous about self-acceptance?
Crystal (audience member): For me, something that made me nervous for a long time was with when you surround youself with so many people on the same journey it is great. But on the other hand, I found myself trying to keep up with the Joneses of weight loss. I have lost 105 pounds. I found myself getting wrapped up in everyone else’s weight loss. Self-acceptance for me meant being okay with what I can do, where I am on the journey.
Karen: Since you have embraced that have your health and wellness improved?
Crystal: My mental health has improved tremendously. My boyfriend had told me that I was trading one obsession for another – I had become obsessed over each pound. I am mentally healthier now.
Mara; Does that ring any bells for anyone else?
Robby (FatGirlvs.World): Karen challenged me to stand naked in front of a mirror, to be kind/compassionate, to resist the urge to pick out my flaws. I think self-acceptance is being with yourself long enough that the anxiety washes away. You just relate to yourself. Thank you for that challenge. Self-acceptance changes over your lifetime – can you get back to the place where you are okay with who you are and where you are?
Mara: I’m curious, what is hard about that?
Robby: About standing naked in front of the mirror? Woman compare ourselves to another person, the magazines, the media which tells us what we should see. To actually look at ourselves is the hard part – to not scrutinize. The hard part is looking kindly at the person that you see in the mirror’s reflection. We are so trained to pick out the imperfection. The next time you go to the mirror look for the thing you like, not the thing you don’t like. We are not trained as a society to look at each other and be supportive.
Karen: I have found for me that it is almost the opposite. The more I practiced self acceptance the more I was able to accept others.
Asheley: I have two things to say. One, I know what goal doctors tell me that my goal weight should be, but I can not accept that rationally. It is terrifying to me to get under 200 pounds.
Karen: Are you afraid that self-acceptance means you will never lose weight?
Ashley: My sister and husband encourage me to be happy where I am – that I am beautiful with what I weigh. I think there is so much truth to that. But I have not reached the point where I am okay with that.
Emily: I struggle with self-acceptance. I have received backlash with regards to what acceptance is. Can’t I have body acceptance – why does it have to be fat-acceptance or skinny acceptance or whatever. I accept myself. But I also love myself enough to change.
Aleisha: My journey started at 250 pounds. I found myself at 127 which at 5’9 is not a good number. I am back at 150. At 127, I still was not healthy. I still get scared . Even in my acceptance, there are moments of insecurity. All I can do is to encourage each of you to keep fighting. We are all making a difference. Do not let the anxiety stop you.
Tara: For me, I think that the shield of fat that I carried shielded people on the outside and the person on the inside. I was forcing myself into a box that didn’t fit. As the weight came off, I had to come to grips with the fact that I have gender variance along with the weight. When I took my shield down, the people around me accepted me. I think that the weight we carry is a lot of times shielding both the outside and the inside.
Lauren: About 5 years ago, I lost 60 pounds and became obsessed with it. The negative is that I gained back 20 pounds and am still trying to lose it. I am a spin instructor and every class I wonder if people think “Gosh, she is kinda big to be an instructor.” My mom said something that really resonated with me – “No student taking your class is going to say that girl’s too big. They are going to say gosh that girl is strong, she can really move”
Amanda: Over the last year, I have learned that if I am not happy with where I am now, I will never be happy with where I may be in the future. For me, you can focus on the physical – but you have to be happy in your head and your heart.
Sue: Over the last year, I have become a full-time fitness instructor. But I do not look any different than I did a year ago. I have a really big fear that I am going to fail. I am really scared to go for it and change the body and what happens if I don’t.
Kara: I will be sharing my weight ebb and flow at 4:30 today. I have had a very interesting thing happen recently. I posted videos of my journey up Mount Kilimanjaro. I have gotten attention from a website that appreciates bigger sized women. I am still trying to process that. My point is we can beat ourselves over weight loss/weight gain but someone is always going to love you for it.
Sarah: I use to be 340 pounds, I have had 11 knee surgeries. One the hardest things to be okay with is what I have done to my body. I am still struggling with that. As you go thru this journey, be kind to yourself physically. When your body is broken it is hard to fix, and that impacts how you feel about yourself as a person.
Mara: We were discussing the idea of regret and self-acceptance. So many of us have said tomorrow, or starting on Mondy, next Monday. How do you learn to trust yourself?
Elisha: I really relate to what you are saying about trusting yourself. I feel like I have called myself names and said you can’t do it for 30 years. Now, I am training for a half-marathon. I have to prove to myself that I can trust myself.
Martinez: I have only been blogging for 2.5 months. I read a study that men don’t talk about weight. Men don’t say “I am going to the gym to lose weight”. I think what we have to recognize is that we are all athletes. All of us are the star players of our own team. Every morning I get up and say “I deserve this”. You all deserve it!
Nancy: I am an RD with a private practice in Boston. There are places to go for help with your struggles. Bulimia.com – has a plethora of resources. Scan dpg.org to help you find someone in your area to give yourself the tools to overcome this struggle. Everyone has to travel their own journey but you can find support when you need it.
Susan (Foodie McBody): I feel like that I have come to place of self-acceptance with myself. I have to live with the consequences and I am a big girl about that. The thing that I don’t know how to accept is the damage I did to my children. My daughter told me that she is struggling now because of the things I did in front of her before she turned 18. I didn’t start early enough. I did not think my daughter noticed. If you have small children, it is never to early to get healthy.
Carla: If your daughter is reaching out to you, then you did do something right.
Susan: My daughter carries a burden that I gave her.
Audience member: You have shown her that it is possible to change.
Karen: Susan, I don’t have children. But I do know that everyone has an “ah-ha’ moment – a moment when we want to change. So who are we to take away their journey to their success?
Shauna: I have similar issues with my mother. It can get better with time. We are initiating change – there is a whole generation that is growing up talking about body image, etc.
Tara: No parent would ever willing give a child issues. I realized that the tools my mother gave me were the best she could, but I had to go find my own tools. For all the parents that feel that you have messed up your kids, start now making those healthy choices.
Dawn: One of the acceptance things I have had to deal with this time is accepting things that have happened to me – that I could not control. This year, I realized that I have to control what I can, and move forward.
Sheryl: I have lost 74 pounds on Weight Watchers. I hated my body my entire life. At 35, I decided to change. I do not know where the self-acceptance came in. But somewhere along the way of taking care of myself, I began to accept myself. When people started to tell me “You are too skinny” and I thought “Screw you.”, I realized that I had accepted my body.
Dawn: I used to weigh 378. I have struggled with weight my whole life. I have been thru skin removal surgery. Then I came to FitBloggin last year, and met Janet – we were sitting in Karen’s room. Janet told me her story and showed me her leg. I thought “How can I not accept my new skin? I have to accept myself. My fat/my loose skin does not make me who I am on the inside.”
Janet: My self-acceptance story is a little different. I will show you my leg that was almost amputated. It is similar with a weight loss story in that I had to accept where I was in the moment. You don’t know the end result. You do what you can today with what you have and you trust the process.
Cynthia: I don’t know what my highest weight was…I know it was somewhere around 300. The doctors told me that I needed to get down 155 lbs. And I tried. I did all those things you do to get to that number they tell you need to be at. I finally said I can’t get to 155 lbs. I had to learn that 155 was not going to be the number that I hit. My body can function at 165. I am okay with where I am at right now, because I am not pushing for a number.
Thea: For me the big change came when I realized that you realize that in the nitty gritty you will make choices that could have been better. But in big picture, I am pretty bad-ass. If you start criticizing yourself for every single choice it will SUCK. But if you can say I made 50 good choices, and 1 bad choices, things will be so much better. Take the victories where they are.
Lynda: I just want to say that this is one of the best sessions I have ever been to. I am a latina – so I have issues stemming from having a bigger butt and bigger thighs. Yesterday, we were shopping and I tried on a shorter dress and saw stretch marks that were never there before. It was the yo-yo dieting. I had a little breakdown. You have to get to the point where you think “This has happened and now I have to move forward.” Celebrate the little successes because they add up. Thank you for sharing your stories – it makes a difference.
Danny: I have had a really tough journey. I am a weight watchers leader. For me, I am the queen of self-deprecating humour. We can love ourselves! We remember that we learn from everything. No matter what, thru everything, we learn.
Heather: I just wanted to say thank you to everyone here for being here and sharing your story. I propose we have a giant group hug at the end.
Gail: I have always been on something, trying something,….diet programs. In the past few months, I have broken my addiction to dieting and diet foods. Self-acceptance is really hard for me. The first thought that comes into my head about my weight is unacceptable. Self-acceptance is really hard for me. I can accept the fact that this is tough. I feel like I can reach self-acceptance when I reach a certain weight.
Mara: What if you are more than your body?
Gail: I am more than my body. Maybe it is the number on the scale that I don’t accept.
Audience: Throw the scale away.
Karen: What if it is not about when I get this weight I will accept myself? Maybe it is I will accept myself and I will be healthier?
Lynn: First, I came to Fitbloggin hoping to leave with lots of motivation. This session has done that! Even though I am overweight, I try not to let it impact my day to day life. I am a lifeguard, I have done a marathon, I have done a half-marathon, I rode my bike 100 miles. I think my weight loss will be successful long-term because I like myself.
Danielle: One of the things in my journey that I struggled with so much is complicated relationships with people I love. I feel like these people will not accept me until I reach a certain weight.
Steve: I have to admit that I came here pretty cynical of self-acceptance. To accept yourself does not mean you are satisfied with yourself – it is just saying it is what it is.
Mara: I think that when you are trying to become something and it is grounded in real love for yourself, and wanting to get the most out of your life, that is so powerful.
Karen: I heard a really great twist on the word responsible. Being responsible means being able to respond. When you know yourself and accept yourself you are much more able to respond.
Sammie: I have been really moved by what every has been willing to share today. I still have a really hard time when I look in the mirror. Six years ago, I weighed over 470 pounds. I turn 30 next month and I am going to be under 300 pounds! What has really gotten to that success is stalking half the people in this room and finding my Zumba family. These people have inspired me. Everyone has that kind of power.
Mara: This concludes the official program. We didn’t want to leave you on the edge of the cliff, so we made you an e-book for you. The e-book contains our thoughts on these questions and other issues related to self-acceptance.
The free e-book “Self-Acceptance 101” can be found at maraglatzel.com/fitbloggin-2012.
This session was captured by Kim @ Redefining Kim